[Jesus said] Either make the tree sound (healthy and good), and its fruit sound (healthy and good), or make the tree rotten (diseased and bad), and its fruit rotten (diseased and bad); for the tree is known and recognized and judged by its fruit. You offspring of vipers! How can you speak good things when you are evil (wicked)? For out of the fullness (the overflow, the superabundance) of the heart the mouth speaks.—Matthew 12:33-34
A woman I’ll call Dorothy knew more about the church and every member and visitor than anyone else did. She was fairly well-known as the church gossip. “One thing about her,” a friend said, “she’s not prejudiced; she talks about everyone,” and he laughed. He also added, “She’ll probably get into heaven, but God may have to cut off her tongue first.”
One day as I stood near the front door, I heard Dorothy telling several people about one of the deacons, “But it isn’t up to me to judge him,” she said. The venom poured from her mouth, and she went on to mention several others. Of course, she was critical of each one.
I listened to her and realized something. She was only speaking from what was already inside her heart. That’s obvious, but I grasped something else. Dorothy was so critical of herself, so filled with disgust for herself, how could she speak well of others?
Too often people make promises that they’ll speak better of others and gossip less. They really try, but nothing ever changes. This is because they are trying to change their words without changing their thoughts. That’s a bad solution, because they start at the wrong end. What they need to do is look inward, asking, What is going on inside of me?
“For out of the fullness of the heart, the mouth speaks,” Jesus said. As I considered those words, I felt a deep compassion for Dorothy. She had allowed Satan to fill her mind with critical, harsh thoughts. She didn’t speak much about herself, but I’m sure she was totally critical of herself as well as other people, and when she spoke, the evil words came out of her mouth.